Piracy on the South China Sea has hit a five-year high with tankers and large container ships most prone to attack, an international monitoring agency said on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the information sharing center of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) told AFP that there have been at least 10 cases of sea attacks reported in 2009 so far.
This has surpassed the previous record of nine set during 2005, and more reported cases this year are still being verified, the spokeswoman said.
The 10th case involved a Singapore-registered liquefied petroleum gas tanker boarded by six pirates Saturday, with the attacker assaulting the duty officer and robbing the ship's crew, ReCAAP said in an incident report.
Tankers and large container ships are targeted because they are "more vulnerable and slow-moving," ReCAAP's assistant director of research, Lee Yin Mui, was quoted as saying by Singapore's Straits Times.
ReCAAP aims to enhance inter-governmental cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asian waters among 15 nations. Its information center is located in Singapore.
Piracy attacks around the world more than doubled to 240 from 114 during the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2008, the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB) said in July.
The rise in overall numbers is due almost entirely to increased activities of Somali pirates who made 31 successful hijackings in that period.